Journal of Physical Activity Research
ISSN (Print): 2576-1919 ISSN (Online): 2574-4437 Website: Editor-in-chief: Peter Hart
Open Access
Journal Browser
Journal of Physical Activity Research. 2018, 3(2), 82-88
DOI: 10.12691/jpar-3-2-4
Open AccessArticle

Effects of Brief Fitbit Use on Physical Activity & Cardiometabolic Risk

Melanie M. Adams1, and Chelsea Freleng2

1Department of Human Performance & Movement Sciences, Keene State College, Keene, NH, USA

2Peterson Physical Therapy, Amagansett, NY, USA

Pub. Date: September 28, 2018

Cite this paper:
Melanie M. Adams and Chelsea Freleng. Effects of Brief Fitbit Use on Physical Activity & Cardiometabolic Risk. Journal of Physical Activity Research. 2018; 3(2):82-88. doi: 10.12691/jpar-3-2-4


Wrist-worn fitness trackers are popular consumer products, but few studies have documented their use as a stand-alone intervention tool. This study examined the effect of wearing the Fitbit Flex on moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), sedentary behavior (SB), self-efficacy (SE), and cardiometabolic risk factors. Participants (n=28, m age = 50.5 yrs) wore the Fitbit for 3 weeks, then were randomly assigned to continue for 3 more weeks (6-week group) or discontinue use (3-week group). Participants were not physically active prior to the study. Accelerometers recorded weekly, work-week and weekend MVPA and SB at baseline and post. BMI, waist circumference, and blood pressure were measured baseline and post. A self-efficacy questionnaire was administered baseline, mid-point, and post. MVPA significantly increased in both groups. The 6-week group performed better on weekend MVPA. SB did not change. Waist circumference decreased significantly in both groups. Overall, there was no change in SE. However, the hypothesized pattern between groups was found. The 6-week group had a small increase in SE while the 3-week group declined non-significantly. Fitbit fitness trackers are effective at increasing MVPA and impact waist circumference, in as little as 6 weeks. However, the mechanism for behavior change is unclear and needs further study. This research is challenging as the features of fitness trackers are constantly changing.

Fitbit physical activity sedentary behavior cardiovascular disease diabetes

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit


[1]  Fitbit, Inc., “Fitbit Reports $571M Q4’17 and $1.616B FY’17 Revenue,” Business Wire, 2018, Available:
[2]  Sylvia, L.G., Bernstein, E.E., Hubbard, J.L., Keating, L., and Anderson, E.J., “A Practical Guide to Measuring Physical Activity,” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 114 (2), 199-208, 2014.
[3]  Rote, A.E., “Physical activity intervention using Fitbits in an introductory college health course,” Health Education Journal, 2016.
[4]  Hartman, S.J., Nelson, S.H., Cadmus-Bertram, L.A., Patterson, R.E., Parker, B.A., and Pierce, J.P., “Technology- and Phone-Based Weight Loss Intervention: Pilot RCT in Women at Elevated Breast Cancer Risk,” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 51 (5), 714-721, 2016.
[5]  Cadmus-Bertram, L.A., Marcus, B.H., Patterson, R.E., Parker, B.A., and Morey, B.L., “Randomized Trial of a Fitbit-Based Physical Activity Intervention for Women,” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 49 (3), 414-418, 2015.
[6]  Losina, E., Smith, S., Usiskin, I., Klara, K., Michl, G., Deschande, B., and al., e., “Implementation of a workplace intervention using financial rewards to promote adherence to physical activity guidelines: a feasibility study,” BMC Public Health, 17 (1), 2017.
[7]  Lyons, E.J., Lewis, Z.H., Mayrsohn, B.G., and Rowland, J.L., “Behavior Change Techniques Implemented in Electronic Lifestyle Activity Monitors: A Systematic Content Analysis,” Journal of Medical Internet Research, 16 (8), 2014.
[8]  Mercer, K., Li, M., Giangregorio, L., Burns, C., and Grindrod, K., “Behavior Change Techniques Present in Wearable Activity Trackers: A Critical Analysis,” JMIR Mhealth and Uhealth, 4, 2016,
[9]  Chen, J.L., Guedes, C.M., Cooper, B.A., and Lung, A.E., “Short-Term Efficacy of an Innovative Mobile Phone Technology-Based Intervention for Weight Management for Overweight and Obese Adolescents: Pilot Study,” Interactive Journal of Medical Research, 6 (2), 2017.
[10]  O'Brien, T., Troutman-Jordon, M., Hathaway, D., Armstrong, S., and Moore, M., “Acceptability of wristband activity trackers among community dwelling older adults.,” Geriatric Nursing, 36 (2), S21-25, 2015..
[11]  Troiano, R., “Translating accelerometer counts into energy expenditure: advancing the quest,” Journal of Applied Physiology, 100 (4), 1107-1108, 2006.
[12]  NIH, “Classification of Overweight and Obesity by BMI, Waist Circumference, and Associated Disease Risks,” 2018, Available:
[13]  Whelton, P.K. et al., “Guideline for the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults: A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines,” Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 71 (19), e127-248, 2017.
[14]  Sallis, J.F., Pinski, R.B., Grossman, R.M., Patterson, T.L., and Nader, P.R., “The development of self-efficacy scales for healthrelated diet and exercise behaviors,” Health Education Research, 3 (3), 283-292, 2017.
[15]  DHHS, “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans,” 2008, Available:
[16]  Garber, C. et al., “Quantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory, Musculoskeletal and Neuromuscular Fitness in Apparently Healthy Adults” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 43 (7), 1334-1359, 2011,
[17]  Healy, Dunstan, Salmon, J., Cerin, E., Shaw, J.E., Zimmet, P.Z., and Owen, N., “Breaks in sedentary time: beneficial associations with metabolic risk,” Diabetes Care, 31 (4), 661-666, 2008.
[18]  De Cocker, K., Veldeman, C., De Braeckman, L., Owen, N., Cardon, G., and De Bourdeaudhuij, I., “Acceptability and feasibility of potential intervention strategies for influencing sedentary time at work: focus group interviews in executives and employees,” International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 12 (22), 2015.
[19]  Neuhaus, M. et al., “Reducing occupational sedentary time: a systematic review and meta-analysis of evidence on activity-permissive workstations,” Obesity Reviews, 15 (10), 822-838, 2018.
[20]  Camhi, S.M., Sisson, S.B., Johnson, W.D., Katzmarzyk, P.T., and Tudor-Locke, C., “Accelerometer-determined moderate intensity lifestyle activity and cardiometabolic health,” Preventive Medicine, 52 (5), 358-360, 2011.